The 30th Avenue School, PS/IS 300

28-37 29 STREET
QUEENS NY 11102 Map
Phone: (718) 726-0501
Website: Click here
Admissions: Citywide
Principal: Vasilios Biniaris
Neighborhood: Astoria
District: 30
Grade range: K-3, 6-8
Unzoned
Gifted and Talented
New School
Citywide

What's special:

An exploration room, computer programming and pre-engineering

The downside:

Lower and upper grades are housed at separate sites

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

The 30th Avenue School, also known as Q300, is a progressive, citywide G&T (gifted and talented) school designed for bright kids that highlights three core values: inclusion, inquiry and responsibility. There is a strong focus on engineering and technology throughout the grades; kindergartners study computer coding, 2nd-graders work in teams on engineering missions, and 6th-graders tackle Lego robotics. 

A typical day for the younger students includes time in the exploration room, where they indulge in creative problem-solving activities through play, such as building with blocks or Legos. Curiosity is fostered here and activities often center around children's questions: "Teachers ask a lot of questions here, and now my child is starting to ask me a lot of questions," said a parent.

Founding principal Matt Willard is a big believer in the role of exploration in a child's development. "Experiential learning is motivating for kids," he said. He grew up in Queens and the Bronx where he was enrolled in gifted classes, and wants to offer kids in Queens a progressive option. He earned a masters of science in special education and has taught both special education and general education classes at PS 153 in Maspeth, Queens. Prior to becoming a teacher, Willard was the preschool science coordinator at the New York Hall of Science.

The school aims to build responsibility in kids, and a cooperative culture. Younger children check in with each other during morning and closing meetings every day. The older ones meet four times a week in small advisory groups where they share goals and concerns. First-graders often work in groups of three; middle school students in teams of up to six. Parents said conflict resolution is actively and effectively pursued here.

The rationale behind the choice of math programs, primarily Investigations in Number, Data and Space, and Math in the City, is that they promote teamwork, projects and exploration, according to the administration. These goals are also fostered through CMP3 (connected math project 3) in the middle school.

Parents praised the school's balance of nurturing and academic challenge, and expressed relief at having found a school where their kids are "not criticized for being smart or nerdy." Yet they also seemed to be cautiously weighing the question of academic rigor and how it is best achieved. "Every G&T parent looks for a little bit of NEST and Anderson," said a 6th-grade parent, citing two schools known for fast-paced academics.

Parents are very active. In the school's inaugural year (2014–2015), with only three grades, they raised $60,000, which one said they planned to use to pay for teaching assistants in kindergarten. Through 2nd grade, homework is limited to nightly reading and some optional assignments. Starting in 3rd grade students receive homework in all core subjects.

Middle school students participate in an engineering lab where they design Rube Goldberg–type contraptions or create ways to clean up after a river oil spill. They participate in computer simulations of animal population growth and hold online debates. They also take field trips to the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the American Museum of Natural History, among other destinations.

Q300 replaces the STEM Academy, a smaller citywide G&T program that opened in 2009 inside PS 85. The new school will phase in over a few years at two locations: PS 17 for grades k to 4, and, beginning in the 2015–16 school year, IS 126 for grades 5 to 8.

Students already enrolled at the STEM Academy will remain at PS 85 through 5th grade and move on to 6th grade at the IS 126 location.

Q300's lower grades are housed on the fourth floor of PS 17. The congenial leaders from both schools meet weekly. All the elementary school students may participate in PS 17's fee-based after-school program.

ADMISSIONS: Families may apply to the elementary school (k–3) only after their children score high marks on the Department of Education's gifted and talented tests. Bus service is available for Queens students living within a five-mile bus route of the school. Others arrange their own transportation. Parents have organized a private bus service for a fee. For middle school, admission is based on a combination of factors that make up a "composite score"—the final 4th-grade report card counts for 35 percent, state tests 35 percent, student performance indicators 20 percent and attendance 10 percent. Priority goes to students enrolled at STEM and then citywide. In 2015, over 200 families attended an open house for 6th grade. (Lydie Raschka, February 2015)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares the building with PS 17

Number of Students 236

Average Daily Attendance 96%

Students at this school

Asian

  
45%

Black

  
6%

Hispanic

  
9%

White

  
31%

Free Lunch

  
100%

Special ed

  
5%

English Language Learners

  
1%

Safety & vibe

ARE KIDS
NICE?

How many teachers say bullying is a problem at school?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

100% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average kindergarten class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average fifth grade class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Number of students in an average middle school english class

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE SCHOOL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

100% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Attendance

How many students are chronically absent?

8% 22% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Academics

How many teachers say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep students engaged?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching social-emotional skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school does a good job teaching organizational and study skills?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam

89% 40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of students in grades 3-8 who scored 3 or 4 on the state ela exam

92% 41% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 4th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who scored 3 or 4 on the state science exam

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 8th grades pass high school regents exams?

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass the algebra regents:

NA 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of 8th graders who take and pass a science regents:

NA 17% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Parents

Are parents involved?

How many parents responded to the school survey?

70% 59% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say they attended at least one pta meeting in the last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Does the school encourage family involvement?

How many parents say they were invited to an event at the school at least 3 times in the last school year?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Do parents like the school?

How many parents would recommend this school to other parents?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 6% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of self-contained students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 2% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 14% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of ICT students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 8% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state math exam:

NA 15% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of SETSS students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

NA 9% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with special needs are educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate?

100% 91% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many parents of students with ieps say this school offers a wide enough variety of services and activities for their children’s needs?

100% 84% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

Percent of ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 3% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Percent of former ell students who scored 3 or 4 on the state ELA exam:

0% 19% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say this school ensures that ells receive the same curriculum as non-ells with appropriate suppports?

NA NA CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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